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Book bans are taking the nation by storm as thousands of books have been banned, challenged, or restricted in the past decade. You may not realize it, but I would bet that most of your favorite books have been banned or challenged somewhere in the country. These bans have flagged books in virtually every genre from classic novels like 1984 by George Orwell to children’s books like The Adventures of Captain Underpants.

Most of these bans go unnoticed, so the American Library Association (ALA) hosts Banned Books Weeks, an annual awareness campaign to encourage people to focus on the efforts being made to remove and restrict book access. This year’s event is from October 1 to October 7, 2023.

In honor of Banned Books Week, here is a list (in no particular order) of my favorite banned books that you should definitely add to your TBR (To-Be-Read) list. (Many of which appear on the Top 10 Most Challenged Books lists the ALA complies each year.)

1. Perks Of Being A Wallflower By Stephan Chbosky

I have to admit: this is one of my all-time favorite books. The coming-of-age story is told entirely through letters Charlie writes to an anonymous friend as he tries to navigate his freshman year of high school. I fell in love with Charlie, and all of the side characters, and kept wanting to reach through the page and give him a hug. Be ready to laugh and cry right alongside Charlie as you go through this rollercoaster of new experiences and battling past traumas. Definitely keep a tissue box nearby!

It’s a pretty simple read, but the content is very heavy as it discusses sexual abuse, mental health struggles, and drug and alcohol use. The book had 55 challenges in 2022 alone and is listed as the fifth most challenged/banned book of that year by the ALA. Perks of Being Wallflower was also flagged for its LGBTQ+ content and profanity.

2. Speak By Laurie Henry Anderson

Hope you still have that tissue box handy, because this is another devastating novel. Speak tells the story of Melinda, another freshman in high school, who was sexually assaulted at an end of school party. Though the topics are heavy, so many young women can see themself in Melinda and resonate with her struggle to find her voice again (both literally and figuratively). The book, though heartbreaking, is an honest and empowering story of tackling trauma and rebuilding.

Again, the content is triggering for many readers and was banned for depiction of sexual assault, underage drinking, and profanity. In 2020, it was the fourth most banned book, according to ALA, and was accused of promoting a political viewpoint and being biased against male students.

3. The Giver By Lois Lowry

This is another one of my all-time favorites and is definitely a staple read when getting into dystopian novels. I read this book for the first time this summer and finished it in just two days. Set in a society of sameness, we follow as 11-year-old Jonas is assigned as “The Receiver of Memory” and learns all of the society’s entire erased history and most well-kept secrets. It’s a very simple, and fairly quick read, but will definitely leave you with your jaw on the floor and full of questions.

Dystopian novels are an easy target for book bans and challenges. Since it’s release in 1993, The Giver has faced tons of backlash of its mentions of sex, infanticide, and euthanasia. Lois Lowry responded to the attempted bans and challenges saying, “The world portrayed in The Giver is a world where choice has been taken away. It is a frightening world. Let’s work hard to keep it from truly happening.”

4. Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury

Keeping with the dystopian classics, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 illustrates a bleak society where all books have been outlawed and those that remain are burned. Guy Montag, a fireman who destroys hidden books and the houses they’re found in, begins to question everything he’s ever known as he falls in with book-reading rebel group. I read this book as a freshman in high school and can say that this novel made me fall in love with books all over again.

I have point out the irony in a book critiquing a society where books are outlawed being a widely banned book across the nation. Attempts to ban this book stem mostly from its use of vulgar language and discussions about drugs. Most recently, the novel was challenged in Texas for “going against religious beliefs”, because the Bible was banned and burned in the novel. Unlike a lot other contested books, most attempts to ban or restrict the novel were unsuccessful.

5. And Tango Makes Three By peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Who says picture books are just for children? This is one of the cutest stories of love and family, and its based on a true story! Two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo started a family from an abandoned penguin chick, raising it as their own and creating a family. I’ve read this book a handful of times and fall more and more in love with this penguin family every time.

Children’s books are no except to the book ban epidemic, and And Tango Makes Three takes the crown of one of the most contested and banned children’s books in the nation. From its release, parents were critical of the LGBTQ+ content, despite the couple being literal penguins. The book has made five consecutive appearances (from 2006 to 2010) on the ALA Top 10 Banned Books list, and is receiving a lot of media attention this summer with Florida schools and libraries pulling it from their shelves.


There are thousands of books across the country that are banned, challenged, or restricted and it is our responsibility as readers to keep them on bookshelves. This week, many libraries and bookstores will have dedicated displays for these books, so consider checking out one of my favorites or any other that catches your attention.

If you want to learn more, UConn Her Campus’ very own Isabella Mema wrote all about banned books last spring and the Banned Books Week Coalition has a ton of events and resources for you to check out!

Sydney is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She was born and raised in New York City and loves to find hidden gems in the city with her friends. She also volunteers with Big Brother Big Sisters at the local elementary school and works with the Photo section of the Daily Campus, UConn's student-run newspaper. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you'll probably find Sydney with a Dunkin iced coffee, listening to Frank Ocean, and hanging out with friends.